Azhar Ali went to stumps unbeaten on 33

It’s difficult to imagine a fifth day for a Test match as one-sided as this, but that’s where it stands. Pakistan will need to bat out the final day with seven wickets in hand to salvage a draw; or score another 302 runs for a win, although a more likely result would be a win for New Zealand. The pitch has started to play a few tricks now but the hosts will also have an eye on Neil Wagner’s fractured toe.

That said, the fourth day was another near-perfect day for the hosts in Mount Maunganui. Not only did they declare with a 372-run lead but also had Pakistan 0 for 2 early in the chase. That it didn’t go downhill for the visitors quickly after that was down to some dogged batting by Azhar Ali.

The No 3 batsman has faced 117 balls for his 33 runs and will take guard again tomorrow. He will have Fawad Alam for company and an unbeaten stand of 34 not out to leap off.

The first thing New Zealand got right on the day was a wicketless first session that would translate into a 111-run opening stand between Tom Blundell and Tom Latham. Blundell was the more proactive of the two, getting to his fifty off 87 balls before falling while trying to up the ante after Lunch. Mohammad Abbas found a way through to his stumps as he tried to jump down the track and play a heave-ho.

Tom Latham went on to get a half-century of his own, his 20th in the format. He started out the day scoring slow but picked up after Blundell’s dismissal. Latham was also the first batsman to fall to Naseem Shah’s short-ball ploy, which was one of the few things which worked for Pakistan this afternoon. The pacer got the wickets of Latham, Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls with fast and well-directed short balls, the wickets admittedly coming when New Zealand were looking to score quick and off everything.

BJ Watling was then run out by Imran Butt’s throw from fine leg, which hastened New Zealand’s declaration on 180/5.

Faced with a daunting target, Pakistan lost both their openers for nought, thanks again to New Zealand’s tried-and-tested opening pair. Trent Boult got one to bounce and take Abid Ali’s edge while Tim Southee relied on the good old swing to have Shan Masood caught by Ross Taylor in the slip cordon. Southee then got Haris Sohail caught at short cover after Tea for his 300th Test wicket.

It wasn’t until the 22nd over that Wagner, carrying a toe fracture, came on to bowl. He was hard to score against, a common plan from the hosts’ bowlers on this pitch. Whether they can translate that into a 1-0 lead is for tomorrow.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 431 & 180/5 dec (Blundell 64, Latham 53) lead Pakistan 239 & 71/3 (Azhar Ali 33*; Tim Southee 2-15) by 302 runs

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